Zehn Orks

“Zehn Orks” (“Ten Orcs”) is the song by German medieval folk band “Die Streuner” from their album “Gebet Eines Spielmanns” (2002). The text is based on Jewish song “Tsen Brider” (Yiddish for “Ten Brothers”) first documented in 1901 in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, it is also obviously based on 19th century American counting song “Ten Little Injuns” also known under politically incorrect title “Ten Little Niggers” which was used in the famous Agatha Christie's novel of the same name (1939, renamed to “And Then There Were None” one year later for publication in USA). One of the early 19th century Russian translations of original songs transformed it into “Ten Jews”. The US original has the story told from the 3rd person perspective, while Jewish one is sung from the 1st person. Jewish versions vary from humorous to absolutely grim where all of brothers die in concetration camp, also they introduced a chorus part sung by number of singers corresponding to remaining brothers.


The song is sung in broken German implying Orcs' bad grammar, but also features pronunciations mimicking Yiddish, which together lead to diffences in texts presented in various lyrics archives. The version by “Die Streuner” is based on more funny variant of the text, e.g. the last brothers survives (and thus the whole song is performed by him only), but marries non-Jew, and cannot be considered a Jew since then.

German English
Zehn Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been ten orcs
Haben wir nit geblieben daheim We haven't stayed at home
Haben Elfenstamm getroffen Have met Elven tribe
Sennen wir geblieben neun Let's stay nine
Neun Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been nine orcs
Haben wir über Zwerg gelacht We have laughed at dwarf
Zwerg der hat nicht mitgelacht Dwarf haven't laughed along
Sennen wir geblieben acht Let's stay eight
[Chorus:] [Chorus:]
Grishnak mit große Hammer Grishnak with big hammer
Zorg mit rostig Schwert Zorg with rusty sword
Raufen, Saufen, Schnaufen Brawling, drinking, panting
Bis sich nichts mehr wehrt Until nothing fights back
Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi, oi-oi-oi-oi-oi Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi, oi-oi-oi-oi-oi
[Repeat lines 3, 4]
Acht Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been eight orcs
Wollten wir Menschenweiber lieben We wanted to love human women
Eine sennen Mann gewesen One was a man
Sennen wir geblieben sieben Let's stay seven
Sieben Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been seven orcs
Wollten wir reiten auf die Besen von die Hex' We wanted to ride on the witches' broomsticks
Mauer dort im Weg gestanden There was a wall standing in the way
Sennen wir geblieben sechs Let's stay six
[Chorus] [Chorus]
Sechs Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been six orcs
Haben wir ausgezogen unsere Strümpf' We have taken off our socks
Einer nit beliftet war One wasn't aerified
Sennen wir geblieben fünf Let's stay five
Fünf Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been five orcs
Haben wir getrunken eigen Bier We have drunk our own beer
Eins war mit Glykol gepanscht One was adulterated with glycol
Sennen wir geblieben vier Let's stay four
[Chorus] [Chorus]
Vier Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been four orcs
Haben wir gemacht die Bäume entzwei We have cut in twain a tree
Baum san leider Ent gewesen Alas, the tree was an Ent
Sennen wir geblieben drei Let's stay three
Drei Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been three orcs
Haben wir gefunden scheenes Ei We have found a pretty egg
Mütterchen Drachen ist vorbeigekommen Mother Dragon was coming to
Sennen wir geblieben zwei Let's stay two
[Chorus] [Chorus]
Zwei Orks sennen wir gewesen We've been two orcs
Hatten wir zu Essen leider keiner Alas, to eat we have none
Als Briderchen geschlafen hat When little brother fell asleep
Bin ich mir geblieben einer I stayed alone
Ein Ork bin ich mir gewesen I have been an orc on my own
Wollt' ich andere Orks zurick I wanted other orcs back
Seitdem bin ich auf der Suche Since then I've been looking
Nach einen guten F…rau For a good f…emale
[Chorus x2] [Chorus x2]

Translation into Nûrlâm

For the sake of meter, Nûrlâm version is translated “Nuk honk uruk” (“Ten Orc-brothers”). It hardly could be sung exactly to Die Streuner's song without some melody alternation. Also some causes of death and numbers were swapped for better rhyme (Dwarf and Ent encounter). Broomstick ride ended with drowning in a lake instead of crashing into the wall, other lines were re-phrased a little less. The joke in the last line wasn't preserved as “fuck” and “female” (“Fick” & “Frau” in German) do not start with the same letter in Nûrlâm. “Socks/stockings” was translated as “foot-wrap”. “Glycol” was replaced “Glu kulâ…” (literally translated as “Piss is…”, also wrong tense here – Present instead of Past). Almost all 3rd person verb endings were dropped, many clitic postpositions became prepositions.

The Result

Nuk honk uruk dak kuz
Daknarirnuz or kîf
Dakhoguz golug-hai
Agh dakirnuz krith

Krith honk uruk dak kuz
Dakgrishuz orn pirishi
Orn thakuzûk' ornogsi
Agh dakirnuz skri

Grishnâkh sha za bha drang
Agh Zorg sha smaulûrz lag
Gaskat, akrat, fofat
Zi narash hazdat
Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi, oi-oi-oi-oi-oi
Gaskat, akrat, fofat
Zi narash hazdat

Skri honk uruk dak kuz
Dakirmuz htolut tarkniz
Ash norsi thakuzûk'
Agh dakirnuz udug

Udug honk ur'k dak kuz
Dakirmuz bamut bhîgholf kûrzhob
Ash dulâkuzâ tala rink
Agh dakirnuz ink


Ink honk uruk dak kuz
Dak gaiguz thul-fraghum ob dak
Ash narzûpâkuz'
Agh dakirnuz krâk

Krâk honk uruk dak kuz
Dakshoguz hîmb îmob
Glu kulâ or ash kralt
Agh dakirnuz hant


Hant honk uruk dak kuz
Daklaluz gazatûr
Ta ûsuz hok dakob fik
Agh dakirnuz krig

Krig honk uruk dak kuz
Dak gimbuz mûd nîr fird
Lûg krankniz tuduzul'
Agh dakirnuz krul


Krul honk uruk dak kuz
Dakbrusuz throkhat narash
Amil honkdab thuloruz'
Da irnuz ash

Ashûk uruk dakuz
Da irmuz kruskâtut honk isk
Amilah dasog
Ash nîr firniz

[Chorus x2]

Gloss and Back translation

Nûrlâm Gloss Translation back
Nuk honk uruk dak kuz Ten brother orc we be.PST Ten orc-brothers we were
Daknarirnuz or kîf 3PL=NEG-stay-PST at lair We didn't stay at home
Dakhoguz golug-hai 3PL=meet-PST elf-tribe We have met elf-tribe
Agh dakirnuz krith And 3PL=stay-PST nine And we stayed nine
Krith honk uruk dak kuz Nine brother orc we be.PST Nine orc-brothers we were
Dakgrishuz orn pirishi 3PL=cleave-PST tree half=ILL We were cutting trees in half
Orn thakuzûk' ornogsi Tree look-PST-PFV-3SG ent=ESS Tree appeared to be an ent
Agh dakirnuz skri And 3PL=stay-PST eight And we stayed eight
Grishnâkh sha za bha drang Grishnâkh with this huge hammer Grishnâkh with giant hammer
Agh Zorg sha smaulûrz lag And Zorg with rusty sword And Zorg with rusty sword
Gaskat, akrat, fofat Brawl-GERV, drink-GERV, pant-GERV Brawling, drinking, panting
Zi narash hazdat Until no-one fight.back-GERV Until no one fighting back
Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi, oi-oi-oi-oi-oi
[Repeat lines 3, 4]
Skri honk uruk dak kuz Eight brother orc we be.PST Eight orc-brothers we were
Dakirmuz htolut tarkniz 3PL=want-PST fuck-INF human-woman We wanted to fuck human women
Ash norsi thakuzûk' One male=ESS look-PST-PFV-3SG One appeared to be a male
Agh dakirnuz udug And 3PL=stay-PST seven And we stayed seven
Udug honk ur'k dak kuz Seven brother orc we be.PST Seven orc-bros we were
Dakirmuz bamut bhîgholf kûrzhob 3PL=want-PST ride-INF brush-branch witch=GEN We wanted to ride witches' broomsticks
Ash dulâkuzâ tala rink One damage-PASS-PST-3SG above lake One was broken above the lake
Agh dakirnuz ink And 3PL=stay-PST six And we stayed six
Ink honk uruk dak kuz Six brother orc we be.PST Six orc-brothers we were
Dak gaiguz thul-fraghum ob dak We take.off-PST foot=wrap-DEF of we We took off our socks
Ash narzûpâkuz' One NEG-ventilate-PASS-PST-3SG One wasn't aerified
Agh dakirnuz krâk And 3PL=stay-PST five And we stayed five
Krâk honk uruk dak kuz Five brother orc we be.PST Five orc-brothers we were
Dakshoguz hîmb îmob 3PL=drink-PST beer self=GEN We were drinking our own beer
Glu kulâ or ash kralt Piss be.PRES-3SG at one barrel There is a piss in one barrel
Agh dakirnuz hant And 3PL=stay-PST four And we stayed four
Hant honk uruk dak kuz Four brother orc we be.PST Four orc-brothers we were
Daklaluz gazatûr 3PL=laugh-PST dwarf=DAT We have laughed at the dwarf
Ta ûsuz hok dakob fik He think-PST joke we=GEN bad He thought our jokes we bad
Agh dakirnuz krig And 3PL=stay-PST three And we stayed three
Krig honk uruk dak kuz Three brother orc we be.PST Three orc-brothers we were
Dak gimbuz mûd nîr fird We find-PST some pretty egg We have found some pretty eggs
Lûg krankniz tuduzul' Dragon mother guard-PST=3PL.OBJ-3SG Mother-dragon was guarding them
Agh dakirnuz krul And 3PL=stay-PST two And we stayed two
Krul honk uruk dak kuz Two brother orc we be.PST Two orc-brothers we were
Dakbrusuz throkhat narash 3PL=have-PST eat-GERV no-one We had nothing to eat
Amil honkdab thuloruz' REL-time brother=I.GEN over=sleep-PST When my brother fell asleep
Da irnuz ash I stay-PST one I stayed the one
Ashûk uruk dakuz One=all orc 1SG=be.PST I was a lonely orc
Da irmuz kruskâtut honk isk I want-PST back=come-INF brother other I wanted other brothers back
Amilah dasog REL-time-ELA 1SG-seek Since then I'm looking
Ash nîr firniz One good wife For a nice wife
[Chorus x2]

Meter comparison

Version Line length
Stance Chorus
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Zehn Orks 8 8–12 7–11 7–8 7 5 6 5
Tsen Brider 9 8 8 7 7 5 8 5
Nuk Honk Uruk 6 6–9 5–8 5 6 6 6 5

translations/zehn_orks.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/07 19:38 by